Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Saturday, September 23, 2017

LOST OPPORTUNITY: Andy Myors argues documents like those leaked about Newcastle light rail this week should be made public to increase scrutiny and quality.
LOST OPPORTUNITY: Andy Myors argues documents like those leaked about Newcastle light rail this week should be made public to increase scrutiny and quality.

The leaked cabinet-in-confidence report detailing the poor business case for the light rail project (“Bottom line”, Herald 21/9) should come as no surprise. If there was a good news story, it would have been released with great fanfare by the government years ago.

Some individual, at great personal risk, has put the public interest before his or her own to disclose the wasteful use of taxpayer dollars. Bravo and well done.

But it shouldn’t have to come to this – these documents should be disclosed by government as a matter of course, if only to apply some pressure for better decision making by our elected members. Politicians would then think twice before approving proposals that destroy 30 cents for each dollar invested.

As the Herald article points out, it’s the opportunity cost that is mostly ignored in these rushed and ill-thought out decisions – were there better investment alternatives? As taxpayers, we deserve better decisions that deliver the greatest good for the greatest number. The fact that the Supercars business case remains top secret is cause for concern. If it was properly analysed, together with a detailed consideration of opportunity costs, there should be no issues in its release. Maybe another bureaucrat, with a desire for better governance and transparency, could leak this document for proper public scrutiny. It would all make for interesting reading I’m sure.

Andy Myors, Newcastle East

FORT CLOSES OVER ROAD

WITH the onset of school holidays, I wish to announce that Fort Scratchley will be closed from Monday 25th and reopening on Friday 29th September. The closure is to allow for, hopefully, the completion of roadworks outside the Fort.

As a consequence of these roadworks and associated lack of parking, the Fort Scratchley Historical Society has regretfully decided to cancel the October Open Day. This event is normally attended by in excess of 1500 people. The next open day will be Australia Day on 26th January 2018. From Friday, the Fort will operate as normal providing there are no further disruptions for roadworks and the time gun will fire at 1pm.

Frank Carter, Fort Scratchley Historical Society president

Can we still be friends

I DID not vote ‘yes’. I did not vote ‘no’. I responded to a survey, the Australian Marriage Law Postal survey.

I was asked a simple (simplistic?) question and I gave my opinion. I'm not posting publicly what I ticked because it was a private survey, a privilege of living within our Australian democracy.

I wonder if this whole 'vote' thing is less about whether I'm progressive or conservative, loving or judging, for or against, and more about how mature we are as a nation. I watch news, listen to radio, keep up to date, and I mostly hear kids in the playground complaining when I do.

It’s "Sir, they won't let me play, can you make them?", or "Sir, they're not following the rules, can you make them?". “They're hurting my feelings", "That's not fair" or "They're being a bully".

Yes, I work with 10-14 year olds as they learn about relating to one another, learn to navigate conflicting views and learn to appreciate different opinions, that it's OK for people to think different to you and still be friendly, still be civil. 

I wonder when we unlearn all this. I wonder how tolerant we really are as a nation. This is not a vote. This is a survey asking your opinion. I'm glad I get a chance to give my opinion on this, especially given that I didn't vote for the person who is now my federal representative in Parliament. They haven't asked my opinion on anything, or surveyed their electorate to find out what we think. So I'm glad I can have a say, even anonymously.

But, it's just my opinion. Surely we can still be friends.

Gavin Martens, Tingira Heights

Long lines going nowhere

IT’S a crazy idea, the notion that the traffic congestion being experienced at the moment will magically vanish once the tram is up and running. It won't. What you see now during each morning and afternoon is the future of this city.

Sadly, it will probably take a few decades for the arrogance and ideology to wear off and to admit to the fact that removing a direct heavy rail connection from Australia's largest non capital city was an act of folly.

If we keep buildings off the rail corridor, then we could still reinstate heavy rail.

Niko Leka, Mayfield

Problem comes to light

THE police often highlight that they are targeting speeding drivers. While this is commendable, I would like to raise some other vehicle issues I feel are not sufficiently policed on our roads. 

I have noticed many drivers are negligent in using their turn indicators. For some reason a large proportion of them are in four-wheel drives. In addition, turn indicator lights are now getting very small. During daylight some can be very hard to see.  

I have also noticed more people driving well below the speed limit. This is an area that can cause accidents or frustration to other drivers unable to pass safely. 

Another issue is the brightness and height of headlights. While some drivers do not dim their headlights to oncoming traffic and when following a vehicle, as required by law, it appears to me that the modern LED or blue light headlights are far brighter than those used in older model cars.

I often cannot distinguish if these lights are in the normal position or on high beam. Larger vehicles now also seem to have their lights positioned higher than in the past, and even in the normal position, when they are behind you it seems like their lights are on high-beam, especially if they are these new, brighter headlights.

If for some reason the size of turn-indicator lights and also the brightness and positioning of vehicle headlights have been allowed due to international trade agreements, I feel this has diminished our previously high safety standards, and this is unfortunate. 

If our Australian safety standards have been diminished and can be re-asserted, this may generate some employment opportunities in Australia, as well as save lives and bring down our road tolls. 

Bruce Jones, East Maitland

Letter of the Week

The Herald pen goes to Bradley Burns for his letter about the same-sex marriage postal vote.